We are so happy to welcome today's guest blogger, and World Read Aloud Day Partner, The Reader Organisation. They are based in the United Kingdom and are on a mission to start a reading revolution by connecting people with great literature through shared reading. Read on to learn more about their work and their big plans for World Read Aloud Day (officially one week away!).
"Reading aloud is better than in your head. It’s like you’re on an adventure, you can understand more aloud."
"But reading aloud in the group; that really helped me. It made me feel like I could do something. I read a poem to my colleagues and they listened."
"Reading out loud has given ‘me’ back to the world."
Every week at The Reader Organisation we take reading off the page and out of people’s heads, sharing stories and poems aloud in our shared reading groups running across the United Kingdom. We currently run over 350 read-aloud reading groups working with over 5,000 people, ranging from pre-schoolers to people at the end of life, in community groups that are welcome and open to all. Our groups meet in a variety of different settings, including schools, care homes and hospitals, criminal justice and rehabilitation settings, and workplaces. People in these places are from different walks of life, but are connected by the factor that underpins all of the reading experiences that we create: they enjoy great literature as it is read aloud by a group leader or another member of the group.
As we read for an hour and a half, the story or poem that we choose comes alive in the room, with words from centuries ago being revived and filled with new meaning relevant to our lives today. It allows us to appreciate the richness of one of life’s greatest resources and helps us to understand what we are reading in greater detail. But reading aloud brings so much more besides. Many of the people we read with on a weekly basis are lonely, isolated and otherwise cut off from society – some of the most vulnerable people. Hearing someone read is not only a huge comfort to them, but allows them to connect more closely to other people around them who are sharing in the stories at the same time as well as opening up emotions within themselves.
We have found that sharing reading in such a way has many benefits to our readers – including increased social interaction, self-esteem and confidence, improved wellbeing and positivity about life. Through reading aloud, many of our readers have been empowered to tell their own stories of what reading means to them and the difference it has made to their life, which can be read here on our website.
Reading is at the heart of everything we do at The Reader Organisation, and we take time to read aloud every day – not just in the shared reading groups we run out in the community, but also in our offices, where we read poems aloud with one another in each of our team meetings. 2014 is our third year of being a WRADvocate Partner of World Read Aloud Day, and we’re delighted to be sharing the joy of reading aloud as we continue to build our reading revolution across the country and the world.
We’ll be celebrating World Read Aloud Day by reading with hundreds of people in our groups taking place on the day, from Liverpool to South West England to London, with readers of all ages enjoying great literature. But as the day is a global celebration, we’re marking it in a special way by searching for readers from all over to share their favourite readings with us aloud and on film.
This year we are linking up with Liverpool Learning Partnership in creating a City of Readers, their initiative to make Liverpool – our home city - the foremost city in the UK for reading. We’re working with LLP to get people of all ages reading with one another and ensure that every child leaves primary school as a reader. Things are off to a great start – in January we held a 48 hour reading marathon at our base in Calderstones Mansion House, where we are creating a model reading community in Liverpool. Readers joined us to read parts of their favourite stories and poems aloud and proud, and our read aloud stars are featured on the City of Readers YouTube channel.
Throughout the year we want to showcase Liverpool’s reading talents online and the channel is the foundation for our World Read Aloud Day activity. Starting on Friday 21st February – we’ll share a video a day on our Twitter page (@thereaderorg) to get into the read aloud spirit, and we’re also looking for more people to send in their own videos of reading aloud to us so we can celebrate World Read Aloud Day in style.
Wherever you are and whatever you want to read, you can join our reading revolution. All you need to do is make a recording of yourself reading (anything from 2 to 25 minutes long), save your video as a wav. file, include your details and a photo of yourself and send it to us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can make WRAD 2014 the most special yet.